The “powerful of the Earth” will have to face God’s judgment if they fail to protect the environment, Pope Francis said on Tuesday. His comments came just months before the publication of a papal memo on climate change -- an event that is eagerly awaited by many environmental activists around the globe.
“We must do what we can so that everyone has something to eat, but we must also remind the powerful of the Earth that God will call them to judgment one day and there it will be revealed if they really tried to provide food for Him in every person and if they did what they could to preserve the environment so that it could produce this food,” the Pope said, on Tuesday, during the opening of the general assembly of the Catholic charitable organization Caritas Internationalis in Rome.
“The planet has enough food for all, but it seems that there is a lack of willingness to share it with everyone,” the Pope added.
Pope Francis, since he took over leadership of the Catholic church in 2013, has made the preservation and care of environment a hallmark of his papacy. He has, in the past, made comments indicating that he believes in anthropogenic climate change and emphasized the need to protect the “work of God.”
“A Christian who does not protect creation, who does not let it grow, is a Christian who does not care about the work of God; that work that was born from the love of God for us,” Francis said, in February. “We must respond with the responsibility that the Lord gives us.”
Francis’ encyclical, which will be issued in the form of a letter to bishops around the world, is expected to be published in June or July. It would come just months ahead of a crucial climate summit later this year, when nations across the globe would aim to pledge emissions cuts to get a handle on manmade climate change.
Although his comments on the environment have angered several conservative groups and the so-called climate skeptics, who have reportedly accused him of demeaning the church, Francis has found support among his aides, including Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga -- one of his closest advisers.
“The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits,” Maradiaga reportedly said, on Tuesday, criticizing “movements in the United States” for derailing action on climate change.